Vian Dakhil is one of Iraq’s two Yazidi members of Parliament. She has spent the past year both advocating for awareness of ISIS’s genocidal onslaught against Yazidis as well as personally rescuing Yazidis trapped on Mount Sinjar. She writes about her mission to save the Yazidi population of her country from the Islamic State’s attempt to kill them all for Politico.
Last week I arrived back home to Iraqi Kurdistan, exhausted but proud of a small but real triumph over the Islamic State. Three women and two toddlers came back with me—five human beings just rescued from enslavement by ISIL. For over a year, they were abused, raped and traded fighter to fighter because of one reason: our Yazid religion. I am determined to save every last one of the more than 2,000 Yazidi women and girls still waiting to be freed.
They thought they were abandoned. Their ISIL captors told them that no one wanted them, in their shame and defilement, and that no one was looking for them. But I insist on reaching out to them through pleas on Arabic radio and TV. I give them my phone number, and tell them that we love them and we want them back. Some brave women hear these messages and contact us, and a rescue mission commences. I answer the phone every time, determined to do all that I can, but it is little, and it is not enough. I know there will always be another call, another Yazidi who is terrified and broken and in need of hope, as the world looks the other way.
One of the women, clutching her 2-year-old child, was so distraught. The child kept asking for her 7-year-old sister, who had been taken away from her mother and enrolled in a religious institution where she would be forced to convert to Islam. Her mother had had no choice but to escape without her, and she told me she feared the girl would be raped at the hands of the militants. We have evidence of the militants raping our girls as young as age 8.